Mandy D. Charles discovers that families can enjoy the best of both worlds on a long weekend break in Bristol and Bath...
Bristol and Bath are fast becoming prime destinations for families looking to experience an unforgettable holiday. With only 13 miles between each city centre and good public transport links, Bristol and Bath are perfectly placed for a twin-city break. The compact size of both cities means that visitors have a chance to explore everything they have to offer in a long weekend.
Whether enjoying a relaxing visit to Bath, with its stunning architecture and streets steeped in history, or exploring the rich and diverse cultures of Bristol with its world class attractions and family-friendly venues, visitors will be spoilt for choice. Here's how to maximise a three-day escape...
Stay in the heart of Bristol at the city’s tallest hotel, the Radisson Blu, with its bedrooms providing panoramic views over the city and harbour. It makes the perfect base to explore and is within walking distance of many of the city’s top attractions. The hotel provides kids with an entertainment pack on check-in which is a nice touch, a hearty breakfast from a generously laden buffet and attentive and welcoming staff.
Take the jaunty Bristol ferryboat from the nearby Harbourside and disembark at the awe-inspiring S.S. Great Britain, the world’s first great ocean liner, built by the engineering genius Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Kids of all ages will love the Dry Dock, the ship with its recreation of life below deck and the opportunity to climb the rigging with qualified instructors.
After enjoying lunch at the Dockyard Café Bar with its stunning views on to the ship and the Floating Harbour, take a short walk to M Shed, where you can pick up a Family Explorer Kit to find out more about the rich and diverse history of the city. Don’t miss the quirky ‘Crane 29’, the world’s first treehouse on a crane that is just outside the venue.
Just a short walk from M Shed at Wapping Wharf is Cargo, a collection of independent shops and restaurants based in converted shipping containers. Treat yourself to some craft cider and Perry from The Bristol Cider Shop that stocks over 100 types of artisan cider. Head back to the Harbourside with its relaxed, neighbourhood feel, for dinner. No.1 The Harbourside is the perfect place to relax while watching the world go by, and is famed for its locally sourced, seasonal ingredients.
It’s just 12 minutes by train from Bristol Temple Meads to Bath, and although you are in the heart of a city, countryside and woodland are just a short journey away.
Travel back in time and marvel at the fascinating Roman Baths located at the heart of the World Heritage City. Pick up a special children’s audioguide and family activity trail and walk around the steaming Great Bath where people bathed nearly 2000 years ago. Spend some time with the Roman costumed characters and hear about life in Roman Britain. Jump on a hop-on hop-off bus tour for scenic sightseeing and an informative history of this Roman and Georgian City.
For a laid back lunch, visit Comptoir Libanais the Lebanese canteen specialising in fresh, great value Middle Eastern dishes in the Southgate Shopping Centre.
Venture a mile from the city centre by bus to the Edge at the University of Bath campus at Claverton Down.For something a little different, climb, explore and play there on the Brutalist playground installation.
Collect a family explorer backpack at The American Museum, only a few minutes away from The Edge, and set off on a journey to explore the history of America. While there, wander on to the terrace and be wowed by the spectacular views over the Limpley Stoke Valley and the River Avon.
Head back to the town centre and pay a visit for dinner to The Oven for the best wood-fired pizzas in Bath.
Get an early start to enjoy some of the food markets that showcase the best of Bristol’s local produce. Rent yellow YoBikes and cycle to one of the many festivals that run throughout the year, with the free Harbour Festival which runs in July and the Children’s Festival in August proving to be popular destinations for family fun.
Take in the medieval splendour of Bristol Cathedral and get creative at the free art and craft drop in morning for children and families that runs during the school holidays. Wander through the Underwater Tunnel at the colourful Bristol Aquarium, and watch fish and sea creatures swim over your head. Keep the kids entertained for hours with hundreds of hands-on exhibits at the fantastic At-Bristol, just a short walk from the Aquarium. Pick up a wristband and scan your barcode to set off on an interactive, science-based adventure.
Make time for tea and cake at the beautiful Bristol Museum and Art Gallery before visiting the weird and wonderful exhibits including Egyptian mummies, dinosaurs and wildlife. The museum has a special play zone for under five’s and also a dinosaur area for older children to enjoy. Please don’t forget to say hello to the famous gorilla, Alfred before you leave.
Stay at Radisson Blu Bristol from £99 room only, or £119 B&B. For more information visit radissonblu.com